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Xi Computers Corp. constantly configures and tunes its workstations to maximize AutoCAD performance. Other companies may know more about 3D graphics and Windows NT workstations, but I don't believe anyone knows how to squeeze the last drop of AutoCAD performance out of a system better than Xi Computers. Needless to say, when they call and offer to send a system (or two) for review, I invariably say yes.

These two Xi systems represented the fastest 3D AutoCAD workstations tested to date by CADalyst. They exceed the previous top score, also set with a 400MHz Pentium II system, by more than 15%. Their standard 2D performance is below average-- it seems you can't have everything.

Both system share the same base configuration: 128MB system memory, Seagate Cheetah 9.1GB Ultra2 SCSI hard drive, 32X CD-ROM drive, 56k fax/modem, sound card with two powered speakers, and Logitech two-button mouse. The first workstation includes a single 400MHz Pentium II processor and a Leadtek WinFast 3D graphics card (32MB of memory) based of 3Dlabs' new GMX1000 graphics accelerator. This configuration sells for $5,399. Its AutoCAD release 14 C96-2D/3D average score totaled 13.16, as calculated from scores of 7.62 for the 2D portion and 18.70 for the 3D test. The second system includes dual 400MHz Pentium II processors and a Dynamic Pictures Oxygen 402 card (32MB of memory) build around four Oxygen graphics accelerators. The price for this configuration jumps to $6,249. Its C96-2D/3D average score of 13.14 is slightly lower than the other system. But the individual test scores- 5.99 for 2D, 20.29 for 3D- show it's nearly 10% faster when it comes to raw 3D performance. Dynamic Pictures' multithreaded Oxygen 3D driver for Windows T is the secret to its success. Once again, Xi Computers delivers on its promise of top AutoCAD performance. Neither system comes cheap, but if you want a wickedly fast 3D system, your search is over.

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